As a way to stay on track and keep things from slipping through the cracks, throughout each winter I tend to make occasional lists of all the baseball stuff that hasn’t happened yet. Anything from award announcements to arbitration filings to roster holes that need to be filled. Occasionally I’ll post some version of those lists on the blog — I figure it’s useful information — but usually it’s for my own sort of scheduling. I want to make sure I have a handle on the things we’re waiting for and the things that are worth a few phone calls.
Because today’s the last day of January, I tried to make one of those lists. I looked back to blog posts from early February 2013 to see if there’s anything I’m forgetting about that’s inevitably going to happen in these last two weeks before spring training opens?
I wrote down absolutely nothing.
Last year, it was February 1 when the Yankees made their Travis Hafner signing official, but that was the only remotely interesting player move that happened between the end of January and the start of spring training. Pitchers and catchers were already working out by the time the Yankees made that early spring trade for Shawn Kelley, and it was several weeks into spring training before the Yankees realized they needed injury replacements in the outfield and at first base.
So on this last day of January, what are we waiting for? There’s nothing really specific, but here are three things worth keeping an eye on.
1. Risk-reward additions. The Yankees are aware of their bullpen situation, but the bulk of the winter’s go-to free agent relievers came off the board pretty early. Now the Yankees are left to sort through some scraps if they want to find a potential upgrade. So of course it’s worth keeping an eye out for those sort of moves, maybe a late invitation for a potentially useful reliever. A significant move seems unlikely, but I guess you never know.
2. The remaining high-end free agents. February is just a few hours away, and the free agent market still has a handful of pretty good starting pitchers, a couple of impact bats, and a left-handed hitting shortstop. Even if the Yankees are unlikely to sign any of these guys, raw curiosity makes the free agent market worth monitoring. There are some impact players out there who could make a real difference for someone.
3. Speaking of which… We’re also waiting for the Orioles to make a move. Baltimore hasn’t been completely quiet this winter, but Ken Rosenthal reported today that the O’s still have money to spend. A team in the division has a need for both pitching and hitting, and until we know what exactly the Orioles have in mind, we won’t have a complete picture of the American League East.
Choosing a fifth starter, getting a sense of Derek Jeter’s range at shortstop, and finding out whether Mark Teixeira can still drive the ball will have to wait until camp is several weeks old. For now, there’s no real milestone approaching. There are just these two weeks of possibility — Will the Yankees make a significant addition? Will they make a move at all? — before the one thing we’ve spent four months truly anticipating.
Pitchers and catchers, folks. It’s almost time.
Associated Press photo